The Ally: October 2020 – Cyndy Baggett

Cyndy Baggett
VP of Development & Marketing
Feeding the Gulf Coast

FEEDING THE GULF COAST: FIGHTING FOOD INSECURITY

My husband was the breadwinner, and he passed away last July. He had a heart attack. He wasn’t even 50. It has been rough working through the grief, and I am not making enough money to pay bills and buy food. That is why I have been waiting in line for hours for food from Feeding the Gulf Coast. I have three kids aged seven, nine, and thirteen. I am from Oregon and don’t have family here or much support. I am not on welfare or food stamps. I probably should be, but I have never had to do that before. A friend is letting us rent a room, or we would be homeless. I am between jobs, but I have been doing odd jobs and yard work in the neighborhood. It is time to figure out where we go from here. I want to get back on my feet and own my own home.”

At Feeding the Gulf Coast, we hear heartbreaking stories like this every day from right here within our community, where one in five individuals, including one in three children, is food insecure. Hunger along the central Gulf Coast has exploded since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, resulting in an increase of more than 40% of individuals and families who are food insecure. This equates to nearly 480,000 individuals who will struggle to put food on their tables in 2020 and beyond. These are seniors living on fixed incomes, children without healthy food to eat outside of school, and working families struggling to make ends meet.

Feeding the Gulf Coast serves a 24-county area spanning south Mississippi, south Alabama, and Florida’s panhandle. Our service area is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of hunger and includes high-risk populations, including seniors, rural and underserved communities, and those with chronic health diseases.

In addition to the wave of people experiencing food insecurity for the first time and those already in need within our service area, this unprecedented crisis has compounded economic strain with a tremendous surge in families needing food assistance right now. In response to the need, the food bank has distributed over 19.2 million meals, a 43% increase in meals for this time of year.

To join our local fight against hunger and learn how to help solve hunger in our community, visit www.feedingthegulfcoast.org.

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